Rules for Playing the "The Blame Game"When addicts and co-addicts begin to feel the pain that develops over the course of the progression of their perspective illnesses, they will look for something outside of themselves to explain the problems they or others are experiencing. (This inclination to blame others represents the core of every addict and co-addict’s DENIAL.)

When we are looking to blame someone for the quality of our own lives, a target, irrational or not, must be identified! 

There must be someone, something, or some event to blame for why we behave the way we do. This is true whether our relapse is back into an active addiction, or even if the relapse is back into the unhealthy patterns of our character defects.  Relapse of any kind, remember, begins with feelings of discomfort that we look to avoid or deaden in some way.  Since the tendency to blame other people, places and things for the quality of our own life is a hallmark feature of our denial, the individual headed for relapse will always find a target to blame.

While the list of possible targets to blame is endless, our romantic partners unfortunately often take the brunt of our blame and justification. They are our closest accountability mirrors and thus the easiest targets for us to pick. The consequences of blaming others for our own discomfort however, can be enormous. When we set out to blame people, situations, and events for the quality of our own lives, we are merely trying to deaden the painful reality of the costs of our own behavioral choices – both past and present.  In an effort to lessen the pain of our reality anything and anyone is fair game.

Selecting our partners to blame for how we are feeling or why we intend to misbehave or have misbehaved in the past is really quite easy. We will always find a target somewhere if we are looking for one.  Life is full of people who appear to offend us when they have failed to behave the way we have wanted them to.  These offenses and the people we associate with them can be stored in our resentment banks for quite a long time and are quickly retrieved when we are looking outside of ourselves for an explanation for why we are disturbed.

Circumstances and events that do not turn out the way we had hoped for or failed to materialize altogether will provide many targets when we are looking for justification for unhappiness in our lives.  Unfulfilling careers, dissolved marriages, broken family ties, and many other disappointments can all be blamed on other people, circumstances and events when we are looking for a justification for doing something that we know is wrong.

Intimacy, as we have explained, is about complete openness and vulnerability. A key ingredient then to a lasting romance is found in a decision to allow yourself to turn your lens inward and “risk” taking full responsibility for your own life and your own decisions so that you are thus bringing your true self to your partner in open and vulnerable honesty.


This article is a sequel to our original Psych Central article on this same topic simply titled: “The Blame Game.” It was written by John & Elaine Leadem, senior supervisors of the Leadem Counseling & Consulting offices in Toms River, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The content of this article is based on their book  “An Ounce of Prevention: A Course in Relapse Prevention.” To learn more about relapse prevention, or for more information on becoming trained as a professional relapse interventionist see our website at



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From Psych Central's website:
The Blame Game | Couples in Recovery (June 13, 2013)

    Last reviewed: 25 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Leadem, J. (2013). “The Blame Game” – Revisited. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 1, 2015, from


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Elaine Leadem, MSW, LCSW & John Leadem, MSW, LCSW are authors of many books, including One in Spirit & An Ounce of Prevention.
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